Lin28 mediates paclitaxel resistance by modulating p21, Rb and Let-7a miRNA in breast cancer cells

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40008. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040008. Epub 2012 Jul 9.


Resistance to chemotherapy is a major obstacle for the effective treatment of cancers. Lin28 has been shown to contribute to tumor relapse after chemotherapy; however, the relationship between Lin28 and chemoresistance remained unknown. In this study, we investigated the association of Lin28 with paclitaxel resistance and identified the underlying mechanisms of action of Lin28 in human breast cancer cell lines and tumor tissues. We found that the expression level of Lin28 was closely associated with the resistance to paclitaxel treatment. The T47D cancer cell line, which highly expresses Lin28, is more resistant to paclitaxel than the MCF7, Bcap-37 or SK-BR-3 cancer cell lines, which had low-level expression of Lin28. Knocking down of Lin28 in Lin28 high expression T47D cells increased the sensitivity to paclitaxel treatment, while stable expression of Lin28 in breast cancer cells effectively attenuated the sensitivity to paclitaxel treatment, resulting in a significant increase of IC50 values of paclitaxel. Transfection with Lin28 also significantly inhibited paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. We also found that Lin28 expression was dramatically increased in tumor tissues after neoadjuvant chemotherapy or in local relapse or metastatic breast cancer tissues. Moreover, further studies showed that p21, Rb and Let-7 miRNA were the molecular targets of Lin28. Overexpression of Lin28 in breast cancer cells considerably induced p21 and Rb expression and inhibited Let-7 miRNA levels. Our results indicate that Lin28 expression might be one mechanism underlying paclitaxel resistance in breast cancer, and Lin28 could be a potential target for overcoming paclitaxel resistance in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / genetics*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Organ Specificity
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology*
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / genetics*
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transfection


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • LIN-28 protein, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • mirnlet7 microRNA, human
  • Paclitaxel